Jennifer Aniston’s hairdresser reveals the story behind The Rachel, plus her most fabulous hairstyle

Jennifer Aniston remains one of our ultimate beauty goals, because, alongside an impressive career spanning almost three decades, Jen has given us more dreamy hair inspo than we know what to do with. So we’re revisiting some of our faves.

Of course, a Jen An hair inspo extravaganza wouldn’t be complete without mentioning The Rachel. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more iconic hairstyle from the last 25 years. Those choppy layers, that gravity-defying bounce, those delicious caramel highlights, Jennifer Aniston’s cult 90s cut became an icon in its own right, even picking up a loyal fan following that included Tyra Banks, Christina Aguilera and Meg Ryan (all of whom headed to their hairdressers for their own rendition of the style).

Giving Allure the backstory, her hairstylist Chris McMillan, who created the cut said, “her manager recommended that Jennifer come to the salon where I was working. I cut Jennifer’s hair for the Friends pilot, and the next thing I knew, the show was taking off, magazines were referring to my haircut as ‘The Rachel,’ and People [magazine] was calling me for an interview.”

McMillan told The Telegraph in a recent interview, “I first created ‘The Rachel’ back when I met Jennifer, which was more than 20 years ago. Back then, Jennifer had really long hair with a fringe.”

“I told her she should grow her fringe out, get some highlights and just try something a bit different,” he continued. “We cut the length and added in all these layers to blend the bottom to the bangs — and the rest is history.”

The new look was a welcome change. “Her initial reaction was great, she loved it then,” McMillan said. “It was a really fun cut and different to anything else around at the time.”

But despite it’s fame, Jen’s admitted to having mixed feelings about the cut herself. “How do I say this? I think it was the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen,” she confided in an interview with Allure. “I love Chris,” she noted, but “he’s the bane of my existence at the same time because he started that damn Rachel, which was not my best look.” The problem, she said, was that she had no idea how to style it. “It only lasted for about six months because it just was hard to do. I loved it, but I couldn’t style it on my own.”

Even so, it’s undeniable that the style (alongside Jen herself) remains iconic. It’s an enduring pop culture reference and a symbol of the 90s – and, we wouldn’t be surprised if it made a comeback soon.

Countless styles later, though, Jennifer Aniston’s hair is still coveted, morphing from short and choppy to long and beautifully layered. Everyone still uses Aniston’s now chest-length hair as a reference point when looking for inspiration for their next cut. So what makes Jen’s hair so covetable? For starters, it’s glossy, silky and always perfectly clean. “She loves having her hair shampooed fresh and clean. She shampoos and conditions pretty much every day—if she’s going for the day-old-hair look, she prefers to create it using products,” Chris told ELLE.


As for styling,”she likes pretty, sexy hair,” Chris said. “‘Pretty’ to me is adding texture, and ‘sexy’ is undone-looking hair. If you look at her hair, it looks like it grew out of her head like that—it doesn’t look like a curling iron touched it. We never use curling irons or flatirons on her hair. We always try to work with her natural texture and use round brushes to give a soft curl. The modern sleek look can be good for photo shoots, but when Jen’s walking the red carpet or doing press, she feels more comfortable with natural-looking hair.”

So take it from Jen – give your hair a break from over-styling, opt for looks that celebrate the strands you already have and embrace your natural texture.

For more from our Deputy Beauty Editor, Elle, follow her at @elleturneruk.

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We take a look at Aniston’s hair through the years, including the seminal cut that started our fascination…

2020: A golden wonder! Jennifer working her signature blonde layered locks and looking an absolute picture.

2019: Jen swapped her usually sleek locks for a more laid-back, natural-looking wave with her golden bangs giving it a soft finish.

2016: Has Jen’s hair ever looked better? From the gorgeous shine to the amazing bronde colour, she looks like she has just stepped out of a TV hair advert!

2016: Jen uncharacteristically wore her hair in an updo for a photocall in July 2016. She let her bangs fall softly over her face for the event.


2015: For the Critic’s Choice Awards, Jen went for a swept, golden girl style, boasting some seriously glossy locks with textured blonde. Her darker roots give her face some warmth and stay true to her natural tones.

2011: Jen showed off a new, chin-length haircut at the Spanish premiere of Just Go With It in February 2011. We thought the key to Jen’s beauty was in her long, luscious locks – but this snap made us rethink everything. She looks just as gorgeous with a bob!

2010: The poster girl for perfect hair, Jennifer Aniston sports sleek, long layers and gorgeous, sunkissed blonde streaks at the launch of her debut fragrance Lolavie. Lov-a-lie!

2009: We were pleased-as-punch to have Jen as our November 2009 Cover Girl!

2008: Wowing on the Marley & Me red carpet with a classic Jen formula: honey hues + length + shine = instant style success.

2006: Looking fashionable and fabulous at the Friends With Money LA premiere with an on-trend haphazard ponytail

2005: This snap gave the entire office style envy – gorgeous length, bags-of-sex-appeal texture and an über-desirable colour; Jen’s ‘05 Emmys look oozes va-va-voom.

2002: Jennifer tries out sexily dishevelled curls with a rockier edge as she collects her coveted Emmy award for Best Actress In Comedy in 2002.

2001: When Jennifer went for the chop at the start of the new millenium, we all rushed out to recreate her chic, sophisticated and oh-so on-trend bob and peek-a-boo colour-slicing.

2000: Looking relaxed, happy and gorgeously tanned with her newly-blonded tresses, Jennifer proves she can pull off California chic like no other.

1998: Jen was showing GLAMOUR girls how to work beachy, tousled tresses back when Blake Lively was still in pigtails.

1997: By ’97, Jen – like the rest of the planet

She had discovered straightening irons, and never looked back. Her gorgeously glossy, honey-hued lengths of this era made her the envy of women the world over once more, and caught the eye of Brad Pitt, the sexiest man in Hollywood at the time. Go, Jen!

1990: Ask any GLAMOUR gal which celebrity’s hair they covet and almost everyone will say Jen’s. Though Jennifer herself less-than-fondly remembers a time when she thought it unlikely she’d ever be considered a style icon – let alone a cover girl and superstar: “In high school, I sported a mini Mohawk just above my ears and lots of liquid eyeliner. I was an unfortunate looking teenager… I never felt beautiful, ever.” Jen – we’d have to disagree (though we’d LOVE to see the mohawk snaps!)

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